Buddy Williams of Niles, third; Anthonie Youngman of Edwardsburg, consolation prize; and Bryan Thurston of Edwardsburg, second. Leader photo/JOHN EBY

Archived Story

Cookie Monster takes prize money

Published 4:53pm Monday, October 29, 2012

EDWARDSBURG — Luke Rawlings carved an orange pumpkin into a “blue”-ribbon Cookie Monster for the $100 first prize in Christianson Industries’ third annual Halloween contest.

If his blue hue catches on, expect a slew of Smurfs and Blue Man Groups.

Rawlings, of Union, spent three days — one day to cut and clean it out, one day letting it dry out so it could be spray-painted and one day for the paint to dry.

Chamber of Commerce officers Dawn Bolock, Martha Ireland and Meryl Christensen judged entries at lunchtime Friday.

Rawlings drives a truck for Christensen, so he was delivering some of the 475 aluminum recreational vehicle ladders the plant on May Street with 31 employees turns out daily.

Bryan Thurston of Edwardsburg illuminated Frankenstein’s monster on his orange canvas for second and $50 cash.

Third for the $20 Rural King gift card was Buddy Williams of Niles, with Anthonie Youngman of Edwardsburg awarded the “sympathy” consolation prize for his totally traditional gap-toothed Jack o’Lantern.

“I didn’t want to take the easy way out with stencils,” said Youngman, who won a pink cap and $10 gift card.

Rural King of Niles donated five pumpkins, a $20 gift card, a $10 gift card and two hats.

The company provided pumpkins, as well as hot dogs, chips and doughnuts.

“The first year, we were astounded with what they came up with,” owner Walt Smiles said. “During the recession we were down to three people out here in the plant, so we’ve had a good comeback.”

“The first year the recession was intact and everybody was kind of down,” President Susan Klemm said, “so we wanted to do something fun. Everybody participated. Last year they got better. This year, they were like, ‘We’re doing that again, right?’ They look forward to it.”

A strobe light secreted inside a hollowed-out chamber made it look like Cinderella’s coach turned into a tiny night club.

Smiles, a Michigan National banker for 13 years who acquired the business in 1993, said, “We just bought the building next door, which was Bentzer’s. They took over Sindelar’s and have done a nice job fixing that building up. We run two companies out of here,” including Sky Ox portable aviation oxygen systems and windsocks and frames sold in England, Saudi Arabia and South America. We’re cramped for space right now and spend way too much time moving things around. This has been a good year. The RV industry is gradually coming back. It’s sort of an anomaly. RVs are usually first into a recession and first out historically. Normally this is our slow time, but it’s been pretty steady this year. From all projections, next year should be pretty good also. We’ll take it.”

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